Sunday afternoons are sometimes when Stanford’s campus is at its quietest. That’s, except you had been to stroll by Arguello Area and spot a dozen college students sparring with handmade longswords, spears and ball-and-chain weapons.
The scholars belong to Stanford’s jugger group, an unofficial scholar membership that fashioned through the fall of 2022 and has been assembly for weekly practices ever since.
“I might describe jugger as a five-versus-five subject sport with the target of rugby, the place you attempt to transfer a ball to the tip of the sphere,” stated Jordan Xiao, fifth-year Ph.D. scholar in biophysics and co-founder of the group. “However as an alternative of tackling folks, you combat with foam padded sticks.”
Xiao first found jugger as an undergraduate scholar on the College of California, Berkeley in 2015. Based on him, Berkeley’s group was one of many first in California. The game itself was created in Germany within the Nineteen Nineties, impressed by the cult traditional sci-fi movie “The Salute of the Jugger,” which includes a related fictional recreation.
Xiao’s love for the area of interest sport impressed him to start out a group of his personal at Stanford. The group has been rising steadily since its first look on the membership honest final 12 months. It’s not unusual for teams of buddies passing by an outside apply to ask about what’s going on, choose up a weapon and be part of within the recreation.
“It seems to be sort of goofy, however when you play, it’s quite a lot of enjoyable,” Xiao stated.
Like seize the flag, however with swords
Julia Gershon ’25 was initially one of many curious college students who handed by jugger practices on her method to class. She determined to attend after being satisfied by a good friend on the group.
“It was slightly bit intimidating at first as a result of among the folks on the group are actually good and have been doing this for, like, eight years,” Gershon stated.
As soon as she arrived, nonetheless, Gershon was pleasantly stunned by how supportive of newer members the group was.
“I didn’t do any group sports activities in highschool as a result of it’s slightly bit aggravating to not need to let your group down,” Gershon stated. “However I’ve by no means felt that right here, everybody simply needs that can assist you.”
A typical apply begins with an evidence of the sport’s guidelines and one-versus-one sparring matches, based on Gershon. Gamers then select their gear earlier than they’re break up up into two groups to have interaction in a full recreation of jugger. Weapon selections embody foam longswords, dual-wielded shortswords and a protracted spear with a foam ball and chain connected to it.
Zinnia Cooperrider ’25, a good friend of Gershon’s who additionally attended a jugger apply on a whim, anticipated to look at the sport from the sidelines throughout her first apply. When she was instantly invited to take a weapon and begin enjoying, she was stunned by how shortly she was in a position to choose up the strategies of the game.
“It’s sort of like driving a motorbike,” Cooperrider stated. “You bought to get again on there and maintain going.”
Open to everybody
One of many core appeals of Stanford’s jugger group is how accessible it’s for gamers of any ability degree, based on Cooperrider.
“It’s at all times good to strive new issues, however I really feel like there’s a extremely excessive bar for that at Stanford,” Cooperrider stated. “It’s actually refreshing to have the chance to do one thing with out having to have earlier information.”
Based on Xiao, the group has additionally attracted members of the better Stanford group, from highschool college students in summer time applications to Wilbur eating corridor employees members. A number of group members are additionally alumni from UC Berkeley’s jugger group and function mentors to newer gamers.
Jacob Szymkowski, a latest Berkeley alum who now works in Mountain View, is an everyday at practices. He joined after studying in regards to the group from Xiao.
“Jugger appealed to me as a result of it’s very pleasant, regardless that it’s aggressive,” Szymkowski stated. “You simply come, you will have enjoyable and also you make buddies.”
Szymkowski additionally helps create a lot of the group’s handmade weapons, or “pompfen.” The group hosts “construct days” the place gamers construct pompfen collectively whereas socializing or watching motion pictures.
“We prefer to have that further connection as a group. It’s good to have once you’re a university scholar,” Szymkowski stated.
The way forward for the group
The group’s welcoming group has not held it again from aggressive success.
This October, Stanford’s jugger group confronted off in opposition to seven completely different groups from throughout the west coast in an annual event often known as “Juggerlandia.” Stanford gained the event, defeating UC Berkeley.
“I’ve been very impressed with [our players’] dedication and maturity in regards to the sport,” Xiao stated. “They’re all coming in with a really growth-oriented mindset, which I feel is great.”
In comparison with European international locations, jugger stays a “very small group” in the USA, based on Xiao. However, Xiao is keen to see Stanford’s group develop and obtain official voluntary scholar group standing whereas nonetheless retaining an inclusive group.
“I feel jugger is a chance for anybody to get an opportunity to let off after a protracted week and meet some actually cool new folks,” Gershon stated. “I imply, there’s nothing extra iconic than getting sword-fighting ideas at 4 p.m. on a Sunday.”